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Course Closeup: News Literacy Now Hunter-wide Core Course

Prof. Sissel McCarthy and her MEDIA 211 class last Fall 2018 with guest speaker Eric Umansky, deputy managing editor or ProPublica.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Hunter Journalism introduces this new “Class Closeup” feature, beginning with News Literacy (MEDIA 211), in order to explore the wide variety of courses offered by the program. Watch in the future for stories on our new digital journalism courses, our TV, radio and writing courses, as well as our revamped approaches to the required Reporting & Writing 1 and 2 production courses.

Students can now satisfy a CUNY Common Core and become more news literate this fall.

Journalism’s MEDIA 211, also known as “News Literacy in a Digital Age,” has been designated the fourth class that Hunter students can use to fulfill the CUNY Common Core English Composition 2 requirement.

In the course, students learn how to evaluate news stories on any platform for credibility and reliability, and then to write a series of personal reflections, essays and a research paper applying those skills.

The first essay is a personal reflection on a mandatory news blackout during which students avoid consuming any news and social media for 48 hours. They also write a research paper where they use concepts learned  in the class to reach an informed opinion on an issue in the news

“In this day and age,

with so-called fake news all over the internet,

it is vital to identify what is credible news

versus what isn’t”

— PRofessor Sissel Mccarthy

As the writing in this class is more academic than journalistic, Professor Sissel McCarthy, who developed the Hunter course, strongly encourages students to take it not only because it fulfills a core requirement, but also because of the importance of news literacy more broadly.

“The class teaches students how to become more critical news consumers by really teaching them what good journalism looks like,” McCarthy said.

“In this day and age, with so-called fake news all over the internet, it is vital to identify what is credible news versus what isn’t,” she added.

Professor Stephen Daly, a journalist and adjunct who began teaching the News Literacy course this spring, emphasized the important skill set that students learn from taking MEDIA 211.

“I think the course is essential, not just for journalism students but for any thoughtful citizen,” Daly said, “The amount of bogus news coming through social media channels is so large that it’s crucial to have tools for deciding what’s reliable and what’s not.”

For next fall, the class will meet on Thursdays at 4:10-5:25 p.m. for lectures led by McCarthy. That session will be accompanied by a lab where students can work on their writing and apply what they learn from the lectures. These lab sessions will be led by McCarthy and adjunct professors Daly, David Alm or Coralie Carlson.

Our Journalism Concentration & Minor

The Hunter College journalism program is offered as a concentration or a minor within the Department of Film & Media Studies. Its curriculum is built around production courses in journalism and analytical courses in media studies. Learn more about our course requirements.

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